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If you haven’t heard of IoT, the Internet of Things, you may be hiding under a rock. Just in case, IoT is defined as the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data. Simply stated, we’re moving more and more to a connected world, relying on these connected, ‘smart’ devices. According to Gartner, 8.4 billion, yes BILLION, connected ‘things/devices’ will be in use this year, up over 30% from just last year. And, they forecast that, by 2020 – that’s only 2 ½ years away – there will be over 20 billion connected ‘devices’ worldwide.

I actually came across this statistic around IoT and connected devices while drafting a contributed content piece for my company. But it left me to pause as I reflected on my own life and how much I rely on my smart devices today, especially compared to where I was only 2 to 3 years ago. My smart devices, especially my iPhone®, are admittedly critical to my day-to-day being. Mind you, I rarely use the phone element compared to everything else, even though we don’t have a home phone.

Let’s take shopping for example. Of course, like millions of other Americans I use my device and the Apps on if for frictionless payments. Starbucks, Lyft and Uber are at the top of that list. I also use my iPad® to order my bi-weekly items from Target. Even a year ago, a weekly trip to Target or Wal-Mart was on my weekend to-dos. Today, it’s a 10-minute online order. Then there’s Amazon, Whole Foods, and too many other shopping related Apps and/or experiences to even mention. We’re buying online! In fact, I cannot even tell you the last time, outside of grocery shopping, that I went to a store to buy something. With recent news from earlier this week, I am sure it’s only a matter of time before drones will be shuttling my Whole Foods order to my door – I hope so at least.

I’m also more connected than ever, and not just through my shopping and social Apps. I recently bought a new car that came with a really cool App that serves as a remote car starter, which I loved, but it also tracks every trip your car makes. My car is 100% connected. I also travel a lot – and I rely on my smart device for everything – boarding passes, flight alerts, car rental booking and terminal check-outs, hotel check-in and check-out. A few weeks ago I was heading out on a trip and I had been using my device for map/directions. Inadvertently I left if in the car when my husband dropped me off. Needless to say, sheer panic set in when I reached the counter and didn’t have my boarding pass, or my phone. Luckily I was able to use a second smart device (iPad®) to text my brother-in-law who was with my husband so they could turn around. As I waited, I realized that my horror and panic wasn’t about the phone at all, it was about the lack of connectivity I’d have without it. At home, I’m also using connected devices for home management (Amazon Echo), Heat and AC control (Nest) and I even have an App for my lawn that tracks rain and alerts me when I need to apply treatments and/or water. Never could I have imagined my connected life today!

Are you connected? Please share your experience and what you love/don’t the most about what’s becoming the new normal in the world of the IoT.